OMG, I made you a Cake. Cake with a capital “C”. A cake that will make all previous cakes you’ve made seem like impostors. This is not a dainty cake, or a cake to be served at tea time. It’s a cake that’s meant for a celebration, and for the chocolate and peanut butter lover in all of us.
It was my mom’s birthday on Wednesday and when I asked her what type of cake she wanted a couple of weeks ago, my mom suggested one that was like some cupcakes my sister received from a friend for her birthday last summer. The cupcakes were made with a soft, rich chocolate cake, and then frosted with mounds of incredibly “peanut buttery” peanut butter icing. They were topped off with mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, and were a huge hit with everyone!
Once the final layer had been placed on top, I did a crumb coat to lock in all the dark coloured chocolate crumbs, and keep them from getting mixed into the final layer of icing. You do this by applying a very thin layer of icing all over the cake and then placing it in the fridge for about 15-30 minutes to firm up. After this, you can frost the cake with the rest of the icing.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend (I used canola)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
210g bag of Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups chopped, 16 whole ones set aside
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottoms and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of each pan with a round parchment or waxed paper and spray the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb suggests putting the cakes in a freezer for about 30 minutes so that they’re easier to work with, I didn’t do this, but think it’s a good idea since the cakes are rather soft.)
4. To frost cake, place on layer on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread about 2/3 cup of Peanut Butter Icing evenly over the top and sprinkle with half the chopped Reese’s. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb suggests creating a crumb coat- a thin layer of icing that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer layer of frosting- then let chill for 15-30 minutes until firm, before using the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coat.) Place the cake in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.
5. To decorate with the Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache, simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and spread evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs dow the sides of cake in long drips. Decorate with remaining whole peanut butter cups. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the ganache and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.
Peanut Butter Icing
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (regular or light)
3/4 cup softened butter
3 cups icing sugar
1/4 and 2 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1. In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter and the butter on low speed until blended. Gradually add icing sugar alternatively with milk, mixing until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla.
2. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute or until light and creamy.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp smooth peanut butter (regular or light)
2 Tbsp honey or light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and honey or corn syrup. Cook, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.
(Cake and ganache recipe adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe)